Sermon on Luke 21:25-38
25. And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations in perplexity at the sound and tossing of the sea, 26. while men are fainting from fear and expectations of those things coming upon the inhabited earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and much glory. 28. But when these things begin to happen, straighten up and lift your heads, because your redemption draws near.
29. And he said a parable to them, “See the fig tree and all the trees. 30. When they already put out leaves, seeing, by yourselves you know that already the summer is near. 31. So also you, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near! 32. Truly I say to you that this generation will surely not pass away until all things happen. 33. The heaven and the earth will pass away, but my words will surely not pass away.
34. Beware for yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down by dissipation and drunkenness and anxieties of daily life and that day come upon you suddenly 35. as a snare; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36. And be watchful in every season, praying in order that you have the strength to flee all these things that are about to happen and to stand in the presence of the Son of Man.
37. And (during the) days he was in the temple, teaching and (during the) nights, going out, he passed the night on the mount, the one called of Olives. 38. And all the people were rising early (to go) toward him in the temple in order to hear him.
Santa Clause is coming to town
You had better not shout. You had better not cry. You had better not pout. I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town. He knows when you are sleeping. He knows when you are awake. He knows when you have been bad, or good – so be good for goodness sake.
With these words the coming of Santa Clause is foretold. His knowledge of your every move is described. Children are encouraged to be good because Santa Clause is coming.
In today’s Gospel text we are not told of the coming of Santa Claus, but of the glorious return of Christ. We are told that Jesus, the Son of Man, the one who truly knows who we are, what we do and what we think is coming. We are commanded to be ready when he comes. And we are comforted that His coming is for our good and for the good of all who love Him.
The Son of Man is coming (25-28)
Every year, winter gives way to spring. The pattern of snow falling, accumulating and blowing around endlessly gives way to thawing. White gives way to green. Frost gives way to growth. The fields that lie barren bloom with life. Changing of the season abound with signs.
Jesus is coming again. He will return in power and in great glory. Just as the changing of the seasons are marked with signs, so the second coming will be preceded by signs. And for the people of the world these signs will fill them with fear and foreboding. Just as the coming of summer brings doom to snowmen, so the second coming of Christ brings doom for a sinful world. But we are called not to tremble with fear. We are not called to fretfully worry about the end of the world or discern when Christ will come. Instead, Jesus tells us, “Stand up. Raise your heads. Your redemption is near.”
The coming of Jesus is Good News for us. His coming will usher in the day when sin and death will be no more.
His coming is Good News for us, because of what He did for us in first coming. In His first coming, Jesus took on flesh, dwelt among us, bore our sin and made atonement for us. In His first coming, on the night in which he was betrayed, Jesus took bread and broke it saying “This is my body given for you.” In his first coming, Jesus said, “Take, drink, this is my blood given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In His first coming Jesus breathed on his disciples and sent them into all the nations to baptize, to preach, and to forgive sin.
Today we receive the benefits of what Christ won for us on the cross in his first coming.
We are given baptism in which we are joined to the death and resurrection of Christ, clothed with Christ, saved, justified, and sanctified. We are given God’s Holy Word which convicts us of sin and says, “I forgive you.” And we are given the holy body and blood of our Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of our sin. Because of all this, the return of Christ means redemption, life, and salvation for all those who trust in Him.
The Kingdom of God is near (29-36)
Jesus also teaches, “the Kingdom of God is near.”
Jesus calls us to be ready.
From the time of the resurrection until the day the Lord returns, we are called to live in anticipation of his coming. Jesus tells us, “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipations and drunkenness and the worries of this life.” He says also, “Pray so that you may have the strength to stand when the Son of Man returns.” It is easy to lose sight of the fact that Jesus is coming back. Our time on earth is limited. Even if the end of the world does not come soon, our time on it may. We are to live ever mindful that Christ is coming back. We are not called to satisfy all the sinful desires of the flesh but instead to be people of prayer.
For those who trust in Christ this is a source of great hope, joy, and encouragement. Evil will not have the lost word. Death will not ultimately triumph over us. In Jesus we have one who has overcome death. In our baptisms we have been joined with the death of Christ so that just as Christ rose from the dead we too might walk in newness of life.
And “Here and now” Christ prepares us to stand when he comes again to judge the living and the dead.
Our pericope text skips the end of the passage but in these verses Luke gives us a description of what Christ did in the week between his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and his death on the cross. Every day, Luke writes, Jesus taught in the temple and early in the morning all the people came to hear him. Although Christ would soon be crucified, rise again and ascend into Heaven, He would not leave us without His Word. As He has promised, His Word has not passed away. We have it with us. Today may we follow the pattern set during this last week of Jesus’ walk on earth. May we gather to hear Christ’s Word, to pray as Christ prayed, and to partake of His body and blood in the Holy Supper. For it is through these that we will be able to stand when the Son of Man returns. And it is through these means that we are able to live our lives today with faith and confidence.
Christ is coming. Hallelujah. Amen.